Intersections of ethnicity, gender, poverty, and mental health in adolescence in the context of COVID-19

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Health Service and Population Research

Abstract

All teenagers are affected by COVID-19 to some extent. Education is severely disrupted, social activities are restricted, and plans are suspended. For many, these changes will produce feelings of worry and low mood. But some groups will be affected more than others. Those from disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds (e.g., low-income households, minority ethnic groups), and those who were already experiencing mental health difficulties, may be particularly vulnerable. However, at present we have little information about the impact of COVID-19 and school closures on the mental health of adolescents. Without this, it is difficult to develop effective responses to support those who need it most. The proposed work will address this knowledge gap. We will use existing data from, and collect new data in, our ongoing study of adolescent mental health, REACH (www.thereachstudy.com), which - uniquely - involves thousands of teenagers from low income households and minority ethnic groups. Within 12 months, we will (a) generate new information about which groups of young people are most affected and why (b) work with young people, teachers, and the public to translate this information into public health benefits, and (c) consolidate this unique study for further research on lasting impacts of COVID-19 and potential interventions.

Technical Summary

All young people are affected, to some extent, by COVID-19 and related social restrictions, but some groups are affected more than others. Those in low-income households, black and minority ethnic groups, and with pre-existing mental health problems, are especially vulnerable. At present we have limited information about the impact of COVID-19 and social restrictions on the mental health of adolescents in these groups. There is an urgent need to generate this information to inform effective responses and interventions to support disadvantaged and vulnerable young people. Our proposed work will make a substantial and unique contribution to generating this evidence base. We will examine - in a socially and ethnically diverse and well-characterised adolescent cohort (REACH) - mental health and social and personal experiences among adolescents from diverse backgrounds in the context of COVID-19. Within 12 months, we will: (a) generate new information about which groups of young people are most affected, and why, and identify modifiable protective factors that mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and social restrictions on adolescent mental health; (b) work closely with young people, schools, community organisations, and the public to translate this information into tangible policy recommendations and public health benefits; and (c) consolidate and rapidly mobilise this unique cohort for further research (e.g., on long-term impacts, mechanisms, interventions) among diverse groups. As far as we are aware, REACH is the only existing cohort with sufficient numbers in low income and minority ethnic groups and with previous waves of data that can deliver these urgently needed outputs.
 
Description ESRC Commissioned rapid review and report on the impacts of social isolation among disadvantaged and vulnerable groups during public health crises
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL https://esrc.ukri.org/news-events-and-publications/evidence-briefings/impacts-of-social-isolation-am...
 
Description 1-day knowledge-exchange event, on mental health in inner-city London schools
Amount £4,050 (GBP)
Organisation United Kingdom Research and Innovation 
Department Research England
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2021 
End 06/2022
 
Description ATTUNE: Understanding mechanisms and mental health impacts on Adverse Childhood Experiences to co-design preventative arts and digital interventions
Amount £3,899,086 (GBP)
Organisation United Kingdom Research and Innovation 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2021 
End 08/2025
 
Description COVID-19 pandemic in London: impacts of prolonged social distancing, isolation, and school closures on adolescent mental health and wellbeing rapidly develop methods to obtain information, over time, from young people in inner-London on how they are adap
Amount £19,980 (GBP)
Organisation King's College London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2020 
End 03/2021
 
Description IAA Social Science Festival award - Young voices: a collaborative approach in sharing findings from the REACH study
Amount £1,000 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2020 
End 11/2020
 
Description King's Public Engagement Small Grant - Young Voices Mental Health Forum: A series of co-produced events for young people to discuss contemporary issues in mental health
Amount £900 (GBP)
Organisation King's College London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2021 
End 07/2022
 
Description Spatial analysis of REACH data
Amount £58,000 (GBP)
Organisation Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2021 
End 06/2022
 
Description Young people, mental health, and a pandemic: Experiences and consequences of lockdown and social distancing in Lambeth and Southwark
Amount £49,961 (GBP)
Organisation South London and Maudsley (SLAM) NHS Foundation Trust 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2020 
End 08/2021
 
Description Black Thrive 
Organisation Black Thrive
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Expertise in research methods, peer researcher training, supporting community-based research, data analysis
Collaborator Contribution Participation in programme planning, supporting engagement and impact activities, expertise in community-based research
Impact no outcomes as yet.
Start Year 2020
 
Description McPin Foundation 
Organisation McPin Foundation
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Research collaboration, engagement, and training
Collaborator Contribution Research collaboration and engagement
Impact Several publications and funding awards
Start Year 2017
 
Description Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health podcast episode - Resilience, Ethnicity and Adolescent Mental Health (REACH) Project - In conversation with Dr. Gemma Knowles (2021) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Gemma Knowles was invited to be interviewed for an episode of the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health podcast series. Gemma introduced the REACH project which is a study of adolescent mental health based in inner-city London, working with a group of just over 4,000 young people providing information each year about their mental health.
Gemma discussed some of the key results, implications of the findings in terms of developing strategies for prevention and interventions, and translating research, such as REACH, into practice to help young people and their families.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.acamh.org/podcasts/resilience-ethnicity-and-adolescent-mental-health-reach-project-in-co...
 
Description BBC Radio 4 programme 'Generation Covid' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Sally Marlow developed and presented a programme for BBC Radio 4 investigating how the mental health of younger people has been affected under 2020's eventful restrictions, and what it means for their future? Craig Morgan and Gemma Knowles also contributed which raised the profile of the research being undertaken in the Youth and Transitions programme of the Centre. This increased the profile of this research and shared the work of the Centre with a wider audience and increased interest in the Centre.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000pxqz
 
Description Blog - REACH Diary Study takes deep dive into the impact of COVID-19 on youth mental health 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact To celebrate the launch of the Qualitative Applied Health Research Centre (QUAHRC), the REACH project team reflect on the progress of their Diary Study, and the value of qualitative data in mental health research in this blog for the Centre
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.kcl.ac.uk/reach-diary-study-covid-19-deep-dive
 
Description Blog - Young people's mental health and cash transfer programmes 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Blog arguing that cash transfer programmes in low- and middle-income countries should focus on vulnerable young people, including those with mental health conditions, and address not just their most urgent needs around food security and survival but also longer-term mental health impacts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.kcl.ac.uk/young-peoples-mental-health-and-cash-transfer-programmes
 
Description Centre for Society and Mental Health Stakeholder forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Centre for Society and Mental Health stakeholder forum brought discussions between the Centre researchers and third sector organisations, experts by experience and policy makers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Clarivate Press Release - Highly Cited Researcher List 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health Researchers Craig Morgan; Helen Fisher, Louise Arseneault listed inClarivate Highly Cited Researchers 2021 list. The highly anticipated annual list identifies researchers who demonstrated significant influence in their chosen field or fields through the publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade. Their names are drawn from the publications that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and publication year in the Web of Science citation index.

This news story raised the profile of the ESRC Centre researchers and contributes to making the Centre the go-to source for objective, policy-relevant insight on issues affecting mental health.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://recognition.webofscience.com/awards/highly-cited/2021/?campaignname=Highly_Cited_Researchers...
 
Description Co-hosted conference: Youth Mental Health & Covid-19: what do we know and what should we do? 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Co-hosted a online conference with contributions from Schools, school children, other research organisations, experts by experience and third sector organisations. Over 500 attended the live event with 400 watching live via You Tube. The You Tube recordings have since had nearly 2000 views. The event sparked discussion and debate, strengthening collaboration with the Emerging Mind network and other contributors, significantly raising the profile of the Centre and resulting in an increasing number of social media followers and mailing list subscriptions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.kcl.ac.uk/events/youth-mental-health-covid-19
 
Description Craig Morgan centre co-director contributed to BBC Radio 4 programme All in the Mind - Racism, awards and hypermobility 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Promoted the research of the Centre to reach wider audiences. This has led to Claudia Hammond agreeing to contribute to the Centre's upcoming inaugural conference to further raise the profile of the Centre.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000q8z7
 
Description Craig Morgan delivered a webinar on The Impact of Modern Society on Mental Health 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Craig delivered a talk exploring the very latest research into the impact of modern society on our communities, workplaces and schools. The discussion that followed increased engagement with the research of the Centre and increased the Centre's reputation which led to an increase in followers on our social media account.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.kcl.ac.uk/events/pgt-showcase-the-impact-of-modern-society-on-mental-health-copy-1430
 
Description ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health - Research Methods Primer Series 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The ESRC CSMH Research Primer Series provide training for Centre members in a range of innovative research methods. Speakers introduce the method, share the kinds of research questions it might be interesting to explore with the method and provide attendees with an opportunity to try out the method themselves. Sessions are part of the Early Career Reseacher career development support package offered by the Centre, but are open to all Centre members.

The sessions for the 2021/22 series included:
Dr Gina Esponda-Miguel - "Digital diary methods in qualitative research" (31st March 2021)
Dr Dario Moreno-Agostino - "Structural Equation Modelling (SEM)" (16th June 2021)
Sohail Jannesari Research -"Participatory Action Research" (22nd September 2021)
Vanessa May - "Elicitation Interviews" (24th November 21)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
 
Description ESRC Festival of Social Science event on London in Lockdown: Young people's perspectives on green spaces, housing, and wellbeing (Morris, Putzgruber, Lam 2021) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Jade Morris, Esther Putzgruber and Joseph Lam and the Risk, Resilience Ethnicity and Adolescent Mental Health REACH study Team and REACH Champions co-produced an online event to present findings from the Risk, Resilience Ethnicity and Adolescent Mental Health (REACH) study (www.thereachstudy.com) that were captured during the Covid-19 pandemic. The event consisted of a one-hour presentation focusing on results from the study on impacts on housing quality, access to green space, and mental health. A 15-minute presentation from young people, who work with the team as REACH Champions, contextualised these findings from their perspective, leading to a 30-minute panel discussion with the REACH research team and REACH Champions to discuss the broader impact of these findings.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://festivalofsocialscience.com/events/london-in-lockdown-young-peopleas-perspectives-on-green-s...
 
Description ESRC and GSR Actionable Insights Seminar Series - Mental health, resilience and wellbeing - insights on how to mitigate impacts on children and families 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Professor Craig Morgan gave a talk on Mental health, resilience and wellbeing - insights on how to mitigate impacts on children and families, as part of the ESRC and GSR Actionable Insights Seminar Series.
The seminar focused on:
• Effects on vulnerable children and families
• Longer-term impacts on mental health and wellbeing
• The correlation between social, cultural and economic status and mental health and wellbeing
• Intersections of ethnicity, gender, poverty and mental health in adolescence
• Lessons for policy on how to mitigate negative impacts
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://solace.org.uk/actionable-insights-policy-seminars/
 
Description Invited Keynote Talk: Society and Mental Health (Psychoses) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Key note talk at Edinburgh University to mark establishment of a University wide network for mental health research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description News Article - King's projects to form part of new £24m investment into adolescent mental health includes announcement that Professor Craig Morgan, from the ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health will collaborate with partners on ATTUNE, a £3.82m project led by the University of Oxford and Falmouth University. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact King's news article announcing significant new £24m investment into adolescent mental health from UKRI which King's projects will form part of included the announcement that Professor Craig Morgan would collaborate with partners on Understanding mechanisms and mental health impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences to co-design preventative arts and digital interventions (ATTUNE) a £3.82m project led by the University of Oxford and Falmouth University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/kings-projects-to-form-part-of-new-24m-investment-into-adolescent-mental-...
 
Description Our Sick Society podcast series 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Our Sick Society is a podcast series exploring how social changes affect mental health. Developed and presented by King's College London researchers & Experts by Experience. 6 episodes have been produced and released with over 1,700 listens. The podcasts have raised the profile of the Centre, promoted the research findings of the Centre, strengthened collaborations with Black Thrive, local schools, Jack Drum and individual experts by experience and increased the number of social media followers of the Centre.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021
URL https://soundcloud.com/oursicksociety
 
Description Policy Lab and Brief: "Youth Mental Health and Covid-19: What do we know and what should we do" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact In partnership with the UKRI Emerging Minds Network: A policy lab and, from this, a policy brief, focusing on how to mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 on young people's mental health
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/briefing-calls-for-action-on-youth-mental-health-and-covid-19
 
Description REACH Festival for Young People 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A festival for young people. This provided a forum for young people, via a range of activities - including music, live podcast, workshops - to reflect on experiences during the pandemic and identify policy priorities to support young people post-pandemic.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.thereachstudy.com/ypfestival.html
 
Description Southwark Council lunchtime learning: Recent findings from REACH (Knowles 2021) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Gemma Knowles was invited to give a talk as part of the Southwark Council lunchtime learning series. Gemma presented recent findings from REACH (Resilience, Ethnicity and Adolescent Mental Health) study. The REACH Study is taking place in 12 secondary schools in South London, many of which are in Southwark. The Centre is looking to build stronger relationships with local authorities and this talk was an opportunity to showcase the work that the Centre is doing and to develop that relationship.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Virtual Work Experience in Mental Health Research for secondary school children 2021/22 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The REACH Virtual Work Experience in Mental Health Research is a five-day programme for young people aged 14 with an interest in psychology, mental health and/or research. The scheme returns after great success in 2020/21 with the move to delivering the programme virtually enabled many more young people to take up the opportunity. Each day focuses on a different topic related to mental health research with a presentation from a researcher at the start of the day after which students are asked to complete tasks. Optional sessions are also made available, including psychology careers talks and skills-based workshops. The programme aims to provide an opportunity for young people to have access to work experience whilst in-person placements are unavailable due to COVID-19 restrictions. We also aim to increase mental health awareness and understanding of the REACH study amongst the cohort.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
 
Description World We Got This podcast episode on adolescent mental health in a time of Covid 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Gemma Knowles was interviewed about the research of the young people and transitions programme of the Centre to understand and support young people's mental health and discussed the emerging challenges for young people's mental health and the recent challenges posed by COVID-19. This raised awareness of this programme of research and increased interest in the Centre.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://soundcloud.com/worldwegotthis/adolescent-mental-health
 
Description World We Got This podcast episode on the challenges posed to our mental health by Covid-19 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Nikolas Rose and Craig Morgan were interviewed for the World We Got This podcast about the challenges posed to our mental health by COVID-19. They explore how the pandemic and subsequent lockdown is demonstrating the importance of social networks and solidarity for wellbeing. And discuss how this crisis demonstrates the need for a shift in wider government policy if we are to support both physical and mental health. This raised the profile of the Centre and strengthened connections across the Centre and other Faculties. This led to further invitations for the Centre to contribute to future epiodes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://soundcloud.com/worldwegotthis/mentalhealthandcovid
 
Description You Tube Video The REACH Diary Study Project 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact From September 2020 to February 2021, 49 young people from South London involved in the REACH project completed interviews and diary entries about their experiences during lockdown. The project team created a short video using clips from the dairy episode to translate research findings to wider audiences.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnmOC2PmUgw